Dispatch: Anti-Obesity Campaign Grows Fat While Anti-Tobacco Funds Reduced To A Puff

The front page of today’s New York Times business section features a topic ACSH addressed on July 9th — the transfer of anti-smoking funding toward anti-obesity efforts. In the article, NYT columnist Duff Wilson highlights the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), a well-endowed private foundation that had taken on anti-smoking education as one of its core missions in the 1990s (in fact, ACSH received a 1998 grant from RWJF to research and publish a report). Of late, the foundation has refocused its mission onto the fight against childhood obesity.

ACSH staffers wonder why such organizations have chosen to divert funds from anti-smoking efforts even though, according to smoking researcher Dr. Stanton Glantz, “tobacco kills four times as many [Americans] as obesity does.” ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan believes that their shift in funding priorities is because childhood obesity is the “new kid on the block receiving all of the attention” — and also because of Michelle Obama’s childhood obesity campaign, adds ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross.